Here's the text of an insert that people in the Bristol and District Anti-Cuts Alliance have done, and are handing out in city centre stalls. Its long (needs to be printed on 2 sides of A4 to be an easy read) but has gone down well, especially alongside a 'cuts myths dispelled' insert we also put with the standard contact leaflet.
Hope it will be useful to other groups.
whats going on here?
In 2008 The government borrowed £109 billion from the money markets to give to the banks to stop them going bankrupt, because this would have meant that shareholders in the banks would have lost their money. Some of the shareholders were pension funds, some were rich mates of the people making the decisions.
Now the government has a huge debt that it needs to keep 'refinancing' (a bit like the debt consolidation schemes we get offered when we have debts). The international money markets decide the price they charge for borrowing this 'refinancing' money.
The international money markets are made up of rich, selfish people who don't want to pay for the crisis THEY created. So they tell the governments “do what we say or we'll charge you an arm and a leg to borrow the money”. They tell the governments “make cuts in a way we like and we'll give you the money cheap”.
Luckily for the money marketeers, in Britain we elected a government that wanted to cut spending anyway – they think that the poorer people get too much in 'handouts', and the rich should be able to keep the money they 'worked' for. 23 out of the 29 members of this government are millionaires.
So, in October the government said it was going to make cuts of £109 billion to pay for the bank bail-out. They said this was because of 'overspending' by the previous government on benefits and tax credits, not because of the bank bail out. This is a lie.
Now, a third of the money that the government gives Bristol City Council will be cut. That means a third of the services will be cut. Services like Meals on Wheels, libraries, help for physically and mentally ill people. help for carers – all will be cut. Some of Bristol's parks and open spaces will be sold off. The new council houses Bristol needs to cut the waiting lists are not going to be built any more. Council rents are going up by A LOT. Thousands of council workers will lose their jobs.
Housing benefit will be cut. Working Tax Credits are going to taken away. EMA is going to be taken away. If an unemployed mother with 2 toddlers turns down 3 jobs because they are too far away, or at night, or pay less than her benefits, she will be punished and lose her benefits for TWO YEARS. If an Iraqi war veteran with shellshock can't convince a doctor that has never met him that he's not ready to work yet, he will be forced to, or lose his benefits for TWO YEARS.
There are a thousand other cuts that will affect everyone in a different way.
Most of us agree that this massive debt needs to be got rid off. The way the government and the media talk, you would think that there is no other way of doing this than making these cuts. This is not true. Turn over to find out more.
Do the cuts have to happen?
No. There are other ways to pay off the debt.
First off, we could get the money back from the banks themselves. We could do this by taxing their bonuses and profits, or nationalising them and putting them to work for us, not for the profits of their shareholders.
Or, we could refuse to pay, or 'default' on our debts to the money markets. This sounds serious, and it is, but at the moment these money marketeers are running our country, they are making all the decisions, not the government we elected. We are going to have to get free of them some time, it may as well be now.
Or, even easier than either of those, we can increase the money we make, rather than cut the money we spend. The poorer can't afford to pay more, we're already struggling as it is, having to take on debts ourselves. So, why not get the money from those that can afford it? Why not tax the corporations, and The Richest 5% of the population (who own 40% of the wealth)?
A 50% tax rate for people earning over £100,000 – raises £4.7 billion every year.*
The same rate of tax for people earning over £50,000 – unknown, but A LOT!
Make the top 700 UK companies pay what they should pay – £12 billion a year.*
Stop the rich using offshore tax havens to avoid paying tax – £25 billion a year.
Taxing people who keep properties empty, while thousands wait on Bristol's housing lists – raises £5 billion*
A tax on the buying and selling of shares: raises £20-30 billion.*
Doesn't sound too painful, even for the rich, does it? Certainly less painful than cutting benefits and services for those that most need them!
So, why isn't this what is happening? A simple answer - The Rich run Britain, and as the old saying goes “turkeys don't vote for Christmas”, do they!
The only way The Rich will pay is if the rest of us show that we WON'T pay for them. It can be done – if us adults show the fight the students have, it will all be over in a week!
Come over to our stall to talk more and to sign up to the Anti-Cuts Alliance.
Or email us at email@example.com to find out more.
* figures from UNISON's “alternative budget – budgetting for a fairer society”. Google for more info.